Greg WochinskyESPN2 minutes to read
LAS VEGAS — Florida star Matthew Tkachuk, who sustained an injury earlier in the series, will miss Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday as the Panthers look to avoid elimination in a series they are trailing 3-1 against. Vegas Golden Knights.
Forward Grigory Denisenko will replace Tkachuk, Florida’s leading scorer in the playoffs, as the Panthers attempt to return to competitive play, with the Stanley Cup in the building.
Earlier in the day, Florida coach Paul Morris told reporters that he had decided whether or not Tkachuk would play, and that he did not want to share his decision.
Morris said Tkachuk’s status will be revealed before the puck drop in Las Vegas as Florida faces elimination.
Tkachuk leads the Panthers in goals (11) and points (24). He was the most valuable forward in the playoffs with four goals, including three in overtime.
Tkachuk was limited to just 16 minutes and 40 seconds of ice time in a Game 4 loss to the Panthers. Although he had four shots on goal, he was suffering from what appeared to be an upper body injury. He skated just four games in the third period.
Although he was cleared of concussion protocol after a Game 3 hit by Vegas forward Keegan Kolisar, there may be lingering effects elsewhere due to his hard fall on the ice after that hit.
Panthers captain Aleksandr Barkov said Tkachuk’s absence would make for a must-watch game.
“He’s a great player in the league,” Barkov said. “He’s a great player for our team. Anyway, I think everyone should step up a little bit and play a little bit better than we were. »
The Panthers players looked confident on Tuesday, with or without their star player.
“We’ve been cut back a lot this year with top players coming in and out of the squad, and it’s just an opportunity for other players to step in and play a bigger role, have a bigger impact,” said Sam Bennett, one of his teammates. From Tkachuk, he says. “Then that shouldn’t be a problem.”